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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Illustrator Spotlight: Tasha Tudor

Posted by Dani G.
Born in 1915 in Boston, MA, Tasha Tudor was named Starling Burgess but later renamed Natasha by her father after the heroine of Tolstoy's War and Peace. Raised by creative but somewhat sporadic parents, Tasha began drawing at a young age with early dreams of becoming an illustrator. Being part of a well connected family, her parents would have Tasha attend social functions which she never enjoyed. She was always happiest in the country and in the company of animals.

Tasha's parents divorced when she was nine and her mother went to Greenwich Village in New York City to pursue a Bohemian lifestyle; Tasha rarely saw her father for the remainder of his life. She was sent to live with family friends in Redding, CT, including the granddaughter of Nathanial Hawthorne known as "Aunt Gwen." "I was dumped into the most unconventional atmosphere you can imagine. It was the best thing that ever happened to me." In this new household,  there were no schedules or rules. The family put on plays for the neighborhood and the children were encouraged to write their own parts and perform. Tasha remembers "they were really wonderful and quite professional." Tasha often opened the plays with a dance performance. Living this lifestyle in the countryside, she decided her path was to be a country woman and an artist.

After marrying, she settled in an old farm house that was falling apart.. It sat on 450 acres without running water or electricity. "People all thought I was a bit crazy anyhow, but they'd have been surer than ever had they seen the tumbledown house I set my heart on." It was here that she would set about raising a family of four children, create her many beloved books and illustrations, and live out the life she always wanted.

It was this old way of domesticity she embraced in her artwork and lifestyle that her fans continued to fall in love with through many generations. She wove fabric, sewed and knitted clothing for the family. She grew, raised, cooked, canned, and preserved their food. The family milked their own cows to churn their own butter. Mixed in with the daily chores, her children fondly remember her optimism and sense of play. A famous scene from one of her books, Becky's Birthday, was inspired from  her daughter Bethany's real life birthday party in which they celebrated by the river. Tasha went ahead of the children and sent her birthday cake along with several lit candles to float on the water and meet them at their picnic site.

You can read more about Tasha and her lifestyle in the following books:
Drawn From New England by Bethany Tudor
Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts by Tovah Martin
Around the Year by Tasha Tudor

Known for her love of animals, Tasha lived with a variety including horses, cows, cats, goats, chickens, dogs and crows. Among her pets, she is most known for her love of Corgis which are featured in many of her books.
Do you have any fond memories of Tasha Tudor?


  1. Tasha was a wonderful free spirit.I miss knowing she is no longer on her mountain.Mary in Virginia

  2. A woman who lived authentically, and created a world that I have aspired towards. Her works will share this way of life for generations.

    Deborah in NC

  3. My children loved me to read her books when they were small, so many years ago. Tasha reminded me of my Grandma Emma. I wrote to Tasha to tell her about my grandmother, her farm, and how Tasha brought back memories to me when I read her books to my son and daughter. Bless her, she wrote a note back to me. So sweet a lady. I still have the note. It is a special treasure to me. Nancy from Iowa

  4. Could you tell me in which publication the print of the little girl looking up at the bird on a branch is found? (The print at the top of this post.)

    Thank you!

    my email is svpark @